On November 8th, GCAA ninth grade students, Antonio Mosley, Daniel Schmidt, DeMarco Saffold and Leo Ramsey along with Dan Rubright, Director of Arts and Community Partnerships and ninth grade science teacher, Fred Warren, drove to Madison, Wisconsin to participate in "Pass the Mic," an annual event presented by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), part of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. OMAI is a special department within the University. It is a nationally renown program that incorporates spoken word, poetry, hip hop, music, art, MC-ing and other forms in a rigorous arts and academic setting. Many of the participants are from urban high schools from around the country. The cities that brought students this year included Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Louis. GCAA was the only school that had not attended previously. This was the first time the seven year old event included freshman. Most participants were seniors. After driving seven hours in the car, our group had to quickly prepare for its performance-in what would be a packed black box theater in the Overture Performing Arts Center, the premiere venue in Madison just two blocks away from the Capital. Our kids prepared a brand new (still tweaking it on the way to the venue) skit/song called "I'll be There For You." The place erupted with applause and shouts of "Encore" after the guys finished. It was the ice breaker of sorts, an emotional welcoming of GCAA into the family. The rest of the event featured hip hop poetry, B-Boy and B-Girl Dancing (modern break dancing) and regional and national guest speakers. Leo Ramsey "became" Macbeth in a powerfully delivered monologue. Daniel Schmidt recited a monologue from "Two Gentlemen from Verona" to shouts of "Go Bow Tie Boy, go!" (He was clearly the only participant wearing a white shirt with a bow tie... DeMarco Saffold delivered a softer original poem which was also received with much enthusiasm. The final piece that the GCAA crew presented was a monologue by Leo Ramsey and a fight scene from Shakespeare's Macbeth, featuring actors Leo Ramsey, Antonio Mosley and accompanist, Daniel Schmidt on violin. This very intense and life-like fight completely mesmerized if not out and out terrified some of the packed crowd. It all ended well when the place erupted with wild applause. And so ended the first night of what would be an extraordinary four day trip. This is part of a three part series of blog posts about the trip to Madison. More videos of the event will be added. Stay Tuned.